Nothing Can Stop God!
we read and talked about how no matter what, Stephen answered the call. We saw
Stephen’s faithfulness cost him his life. This morning the first three verses
we read tell how the church reacted to what happened to Stephen. We see not
only was Stephen attacked but then the church in Jerusalem was attacked. As a result,
most of its members took off for other places. We even see in the third verse
Saul led the Jewish people to go house to house searching for Christians. Saul
and the other Jewish leaders so desperately wanted to destroy this group of
Christians. They literally dragged men and women off to prison in the name of
God. The ironic thing is when the scattered church left Jerusalem and went to
the other towns, they continued to share about Jesus. The Holy Spirit gave them
power to do many miracles, to drive out evil spirits, and to heal the sick, as
well as those who had physical limitations. Philip was one person God used to
take the Word to Samaria. If you remember, the region of Samaria and, in
particular, the Samaritans, were people Israelites would not associate with.
They were Gentiles. But that is where God led Philip to proclaim the Word.
We also see
in one of the cities of Samaria was a man by the name of Simon. He practiced
sorcery. He apparently was able to do some pretty good magic tricks and people
thought he had special powers. However, when he saw what Philip was able to do,
he realized he had nothing compared to him. The apostles who had remained in
Jerusalem heard what God had done through Philip in Samaria and sent Peter and
John to help the Samaritans with their understanding of God. When Peter and
John shared the complete message of salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit,
they truly were changed in a powerful way with special signs that all could
see. Simon the sorcerer saw this and sought to buy this power from the
apostles. God’s power, however, is not for sale. Ironically, it is free for all
who will receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. While Simon had claimed to
believe Philip’s message, he had not truly accepted the full message of Jesus
as Savior. Peter pointed out that the power of the Holy Spirit is not for sale.
Peter also told Simon to repent before it was too late. Simon asked for Peter
to pray for God to forgive him and save him.
Peter and John
returned to Jerusalem preaching the Word in other Samarian towns as they went,
and God’s Word continued to be proclaimed. What an incredible message of God’s
power and love in the midst of crisis. Satan continued to try to do what he was
not able to do on the cross, stop the message of Jesus Christ the Savior from
going forward. Satan continued to kill and destroy, yet God’s Word kept moving
ahead. You would have thought Stephen’s murder would have driven everyone into
hiding. That it also would have stopped the apostles and their followers from
proclaiming the Word, but God is never going to be stopped.
We live in a
world where more and more the church is under attack. Our message at times is
drowned out by all the other things happening around us. Just like during the
early days of the church in Acts we need to keep pressing forward living lives
that honestly show God is still alive and waiting to move during the ups and
downs we face in life. We may not have all the answers but we believe and serve
a God who does. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to provide us power just like
he did for Peter and John. The Holy Spirit’s power is not for sale, but anyone
can receive it for free when we truly accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and
Savior. What a story we have to tell!
church live in the power of the Holy Spirit recognizing nothing and I mean
nothing can stop us when we are doing God’s will. What should have stopped the
early church by the stoning of Stephen and the persecution that followed, God actually
used to energize the believers. We need to be willing to do what the early
church did. When life gives us lemons, make lemonade. Use negative things that
come our way to learn from God and move forward in faith. Nothing is too hard
for our God and the Holy Spirit.
word teach us how to deal with both the good, as well as the bad, we face in
life. May our faith continue to grow whether we have been following Christ for
a short time or a long time. God is not done with us yet. May we never forget
continue in Acts, may the Holy Spirit reveal new ways to grow and be empowered
because as we have seen today, “Nothing can stop God!”
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
Newsletter submissions are due July 28.
We are looking for help with the regular adult
Sunday School class. If you are willing to take a turn teaching, please sign
the sheet on the east bulletin board.
August 11 Executive Committee
August 14 Oakley Brick Church Pork Chop Supper
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thanks
to everyone for your faithful giving!
Donation Box: AC Bills
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
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in Your Prayers
Sarah Rudelick; Sydney
(Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl
and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike
and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry
Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior;
Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy
Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain;
Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren
Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus
crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 600,000+
people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the
unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims
of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano
in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda
Military and Other
Services and their families
Service workers; Disaster project workers
of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately
live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ
through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will
develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative,
adaptable, and fearless.
God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.